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Lindner for higher commuter allowances: You need to know that!

In view of the sharp rise in energy prices, Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) has announced a significant increase in the commuter allowance from 2023: “Many people have to commute to work every day. High energy costs hit them particularly hard. We should continue to relieve this working middle of society in the future,” said Lindner to the German Press Agency. He had previously made a similar statement on Twitter.

The FDP boss did not say how much the flat rate should increase. According to his ideas, the increase should take effect from the first kilometer and not only apply to long-distance commuters. According to Lindner, the flat rate applies regardless of the means of transport chosen and sets incentives for cost- and energy-saving behaviour.
Christian Lindner

Finance Minister Lindner has brought an increase in the commuter allowance into play as a relief for increased energy prices.


In the traffic light coalition, Lindner’s proposal caused a divided response. While SPD parliamentary group leader Achim Post looked at him “Greens parliamentary group leader Andreas Audretsch saw advantages for high earners in particular. Representatives of transport associations, consumer protection and trade unions made similar statements. This is what was demanded DGB board member Stefan Körzell “a mobility allowance that is granted regardless of income and the chosen means of transport”.
ADAC Transport President Gerhard Hillebrand welcomed Lindner’s proposal: “It is important that the increased distance allowance applies from the first kilometer so that not only long-distance commuters are relieved.”
Due to the massive increase in fuel prices, the commuter allowance in Germany was recently increased earlier than originally planned – but only for long-distance commuters. Not only from January 1, 2024, but retrospectively to January 1, 2022, there will be a tax subsidy of 38 cents from the 21st kilometer instead of the previous 35 cents per kilometer.

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In co-operation with

package of measures against the high energy prices

The measure is part of a multi-billion dollar relief package from the traffic light coalition of SPD, Greens and FDP to combat skyrocketing energy costs. The package also includes an earlier abolition of the EEG levy on the electricity bill, an immediate surcharge for low-income families with children and a one-off grant of 100 euros for recipients of Hartz IV, basic security and social assistance. In addition, the advertising allowance for employees was increased retrospectively, as was the basic allowance for income tax.
city ​​traffic

The distance allowance is paid independently of the means of transport, i.e. also to pedestrians and cyclists.

Criticism of the increase in the commuter allowance

The opposition not only criticized the package of measures adopted, but also the increase in the commuter allowance. While poor people get a one-off grant of just 100 euros, high earners can look forward to a few hundred euros more in their wallets, said Linke board member Maximilian Becker.

Traffic expert Marion Tiemann from the environmental organization Greenpeace called the increase in the commuter allowance “the opposite of social justice”. Above all, people from the suburbs or the surrounding area, who had to travel long distances to get well-paid jobs, benefited from it.

What is the commuter allowance?

The commuter allowance or distance allowance is a tax relief for employees. It is intended to reduce the costs incurred when traveling to work if the employer does not reimburse them.

How long has the commuter allowance been in existence?

Does the commuter allowance only apply to drivers?

No, the commuter allowance is paid independently of the means of transport. So not only for people who drive to work by car, but also for cyclists or users of public transport.

How much is the commuter allowance?

The commuter allowance is currently 0.30 euros for the first 20 kilometers, after that it is 38 cents. This amount from the 21st kilometer applies retrospectively to January 1, 2022. Before it was 35 cents.

Two calculation examples: If someone drove 20 kilometers on 200 days as a one-way trip to work in 2021, the deductible commuter allowance is 200 x 20 x 0.30 euros = 1200 euros. For trips to work over 50 kilometers on 220 days in 2022, 3828 euros will come together (220 days x 20 kilometers x 0.30 euros = 1320 euros plus 220 days x 30 kilometers x 0.38 euros = 2508 euros).

How is the commuter allowance calculated?

It can only be calculated once per working day for the one-way trip to the first place of work, for the shortest route. Rare exceptions are possible, for example if another route is significantly cheaper. For the way with the Motorcycle/moped, bicycle or as part of a carpool maA maximum of 4500 euros can be credited.

How do you get the money from the distance allowance?

The commuter allowance can be claimed as a tax-reducing income-related expense for commuting to work in wage and income tax, so it is used in the annual tax return. It thus reduces the employee’s tax burden.

Miniature car on income tax return with cash coins

The commuter allowance is claimed in the income tax return. From kilometer 21 it was previously 35 cents, now it is 38 cents.


Which alternatives to the commuter allowance are being discussed?

The increase in the commuter allowance is controversial, even within the traffic light coalition. The Greens consider the measure to be socially unjust and economically and ecologically counterproductive.

As an alternative, consumer advocates, the VCD (Verkehrsclub Deutschland) and the Left Party, among others, have proposed a “mobility allowance independent of income”, in which a uniform amount per kilometer would be deducted directly from the tax liability. According to the ACE (Auto Club Europa), non-taxable persons would also receive the mobility allowance as compensation for their journey.

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